It’s been another good day at the office for Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon and co-driver Seb Marshall as they move into third overall of Rally Australia, the final round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.
Paddon scored two stage wins during Saturday’s 10 special stages and 130.66km of action. Both stage victories were secured on the repeated runs through 13.13 km of Argents Hill Reverse (SS9 and 13).
Paddon was again consistent and quick throughout the day to stay involved in a close battle with rally leader Ott Tanak (a margin of 26.3 seconds separates Tanak and Paddon). His overall placing swapped from fourth to third and even second at one point as Tanak charged into the lead, and Friday’s rally leader Mads Ostberg slipped back. He’s only 4.4 seconds behind second-placed Jari-Matti Latvala with six more stages to run on Sunday.
With a provisional podium position Paddon continues to be the best placed Hyundai Motorsport driver in this year’s Australian WRC event, while team-mates Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen are eighth and 17th respectively.
Paddon said: “It has been nice to get back onto some of my favourite stages of the year. I have really enjoyed myself out there. There’s still more pace to be found, but we set ourselves the minimum target of a podium and we’re looking in good shape for that so far. The weather might still have a role to play tomorrow so we have to keep pushing. I’ve had a great feeling from inside the car and started to really get into the groove. Winning the repeat of the Argents Hill stage was probably the most fun I’ve had in a rally car all year. We now have one final day to see what more we can do – it’s still pretty close up top.”
Rain started falling at the end of Saturday’s super special stages, so the final day of the 2018 WRC season could have the added complication of wet conditions as competitors tackle one of the longest Sunday schedules of the year. Six stages and a competitive distance of 83.96km will decide the 2018 WRC champion driver, co-driver and manufacturer.